VLN case: Appeals Court gives AGC until Sept 9 to decide on Zahid's representations

18 Mar 2024 01:38pm
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Court of Appeal today for the mention of the prosecution's appeal and his representation over his foreign visa system (VLN) case. - Photo by Bernama
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Court of Appeal today for the mention of the prosecution's appeal and his representation over his foreign visa system (VLN) case. - Photo by Bernama

PUTRAJAYA - The Court of Appeal has given the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) until Sept 9 to decide whether to proceed or withdraw the appeal against Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s acquittal of 40 corruption charges in connection with the foreign visa system (VLN) contract.

Justice Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, who chaired a three-member panel with Justices Datuk Azman Abdullah and Datuk S.M. Komathy Suppiah granted Zahid’s application to adjourn the hearing of the prosecution’s appeal against his (Zahid’s) acquittal, which was scheduled today.

She then fixed Sept 9 for the hearing of the appeal.

Justice Hadhariah, however, said it would be a final adjournment and the AGC must give an answer to Zahid’s representations.

Earlier, Zahid’s counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik applied for an adjournment of the appeal hearing saying that two representations submitted by his client to the AGC are still pending consideration.

"It must be given fair and just consideration,” said Hisyam, who also informed the court that Zahid, who is the Rural and Regional Development Minister, has to chair a meeting at the Ministry at noon today.

Zahid, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, filed the first representation in January last year and the second one on Feb 7 this year seeking the AGC to consider withdrawing its appeal.

Zahid’s other lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, meanwhile, informed the court that the defence required more time to submit its reply to the prosecution’s voluminous submission.

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Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Dusuki Mokhtar told the court that the prosecution is not objecting to Zahid’s application for postponement of the appeal hearing as they (the prosecution) need ample time to give due consideration to his (Zahid’s) representations.

Justice Hadhariah told both parties that she spent a few days reading the records of appeal and the voluminous High Court’s notes of proceedings in order to understand the case.

"It ran into more than 1,000 pages. I did not focus on other cases. Since the prosecution has no objection to the adjournment, I do not want to say anything more,” she said.

On Sept 23, 2022, the Shah Alam High Court acquitted and discharged Zahid of all the charges without ordering him to enter defence after it ruled that the prosecution had not made out a prima facie case against him. The prosecution then filed its notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The Umno president had pleaded not guilty to 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) for himself as the then home minister to extend the contract of the company as the operator of a one-stop centre (OSC) service in China and the VLN system, as well as to maintain its contract with the home ministry to supply the VLN integrated system.

He was alleged to have committed those offences at Seri Satria, Precinct 16, Putrajaya and Country Heights, Kajang between October 2014 and March 2018.

He also claimed trial to 33 alternative charges under Section 165 of the Penal Code, where he was charged in his capacity as a home minister with receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million in relation to the VLN system between 2014 and 2017.

For the other seven charges, he was accused of obtaining for himself cash of S$1,150,000, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 from the same company, which he knew had a connection with his official functions.

Zahid allegedly committed the offences at a house in Country Heights, Kajang between June 2015 and October 2017. - BERNAMA